I know what you are asking, what exactly is Adobe Lightroom and why do I need it? You probably already have Photoshop anyway. Well you don't need it! You can continue to keep your photos organized on your hard drive in the equivalent of an electronic shoe box and when you need to find that perfect shot, you can probably find it in less time that it takes to change the oil in your car.
What I am saying is this: if you take a lot of pictures, especially in raw format, you are going to find that you really do need Adobe Lightroom. It's not a copy of some of the current digital asset management (DAM) programs such as iViewMedia or Aperture, rather Adobe has quietly thrown down the gauntlet and has said that it is going to take over the whole DAM business and has shown us how it should be done.
Of the big guns, Apple was first with Aperture and now Adobe with Lightroom. It is my opinion that Adobe holds the upper hand. This is not an attempt to catch up to Apple either; I feel that Adobe has been sitting back creating the superior product.
Within Adobe Lightroom there are five main areas: Library, Develop, Slideshow, Print and Web and they are laid out for easy navigation throughout the system. If you are familiar with Photoshop, you will feel right at home with Lightroom. One of the great features of the overall interface is the freedom you have with the workspace. You can hide things quickly all the way to "Lights Out" mode where you can, with a tap of the "L" key, change your screen to a dim view and with another tap, only the photo will show.
The library is the area that you use to import your images. This creates a record of each image. The record, as well as a preview, is stored in a database. This records where the photo is stored, the metadata that describes the photo, and the editing instructions that are performed from within the develop module. The database lets you perform tasks on the photos such as applying ratings, adding additional metadata, adding keyword tags, organizing them into collections and removing anything unwanted. You can view your images in grid, loupe, compare and survey views.